Another Chance for BP to “settle” and avoid Criminal Charges?

by Luis R. Miranda
The Real Agenda
February 28, 2012

British Petroleum “has gotten lucky”, again. Not only has it not been held accountable for its share of the blame on the Oil Spill Disaster, but they’ve also managed to delay the start of the trial that was supposed to start February 27th. “Two people close to the case told The Associated Press the decision to postpone was made Sunday during a conference call between parties in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill case and U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier,” reports the Washington Post. As I said in my article BP Oil Spill Litigation May Threaten Solution to Real Problem, judge Carl Barbier’s list of rules issued previous to the scheduled date of the trial was a black cloud over the people of the Gulf, who are urgently looking forward to solving the disaster. But the solution is not a financial settlement, as the main stream media reports. The solution to the current poisoning of the Gulf of Mexico requires that BP pays its dues, but also that the Gulf is properly cleaned from ongoing hydrocarbons spills that spew out of the third oil well, the same that BP did not report during the Congressional investigations.

Judge Barbier seems to have agreed with BP and the “steering committee” that works with the plaintiffs to delay the trial in order to give the settlement another shot. They are “making some progress”, Barbier said during a conference call. The so-called steering committee is assessing lawsuits filed by individuals and victims of the April 20, 2010 explosion of the Deep Water Horizon rig and everything that happened as a consequence of such an event. It suffices to say that the terms of any agreement between BP and the victims that have filed lawsuits will not be made public. Most likely, those who settle will not be able to talk about the negotiations or the amounts they received. How will this settlement help clean the Gulf? It won’t.

Perhaps the best reason for neither the government nor the private plaintiffs to settle with BP is the fact that new evidence released last Friday shows that British Petroleum purposely deceived investigators who were trying to find out the causes and consequences of the massive oil spill. A briefing put out by the Gulf Rescue Alliance (GRA), that was sent to the Attorney Generals of Alabama and Louisiana presents evidence that until now has not been sufficiently analyzed or for that matter publicized about how and why the Deepwater Horizon Disaster and later releases of toxic oil into the Gulf occurred, as well as how the oil spill has not stopped — oil is still coming out from various seabed fractures.

Evidence cited by the report mentions that BP omitted the existence of a third well, the real source of the spill. It also shows how the current conditions of the third well are such that it can’t simply be capped as BP supposedly did, but that we now know it didn’t do. Additionally, the briefing explains how the seafloor is highly fractured, which has opened numerous fissures where the oil and gases continue to spill out from. The government continues to use Corexit, a chemical whose work is to hide the oil spill, not to stop it or to remediate the damage caused by the millions of barrels of oil that are still coming out of the third well.

“The Gulf Rescue Alliance has no interest in publicity for itself, pointing fingers, finding who to blame or anything else; we are interested in catalyzing action on an urgent basis to save the Gulf from long-term, disastrous impacts by getting actual solutions being applied; solutions that have been blocked by the EPA for the past 23 years.  We hold the EPA directly responsible for keeping in place the destructive response protocols used in this disaster aka Corexit.  The Gulf and the life it supports can’t wait 3, 6 or 12 months for a trial to bring a resolution; nor will a real resolution be possible if no admission occurs of the currently uncapped well. Justice and damage dollars will mean nothing if the Gulf is dead,” said a spokesperson for GRA.

The Washinton Post also reports that judge Barbier said that the delay was allowed “for reasons of judicial efficiency and to allow the parties to make further progress in their settlement discussions.” In other words, the judge is favoring a settlement as supposed to a trial that actually holds BP and the other companies accountable for their wrong doings previous and after the oil spill disaster. It is hard to see how justice will be done if a settlement is reached outside of Court. No matter how many millions or billions are at stake, a settlement will only look after BP’s interests, not those of the residents or the Gulf.

In the case of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster a settlement simply is not the solution. But assuming that the trial begins, it does not necessarily mean that justice will be made either. Although the first part of the proceedings is supposed to be about determining the causes of the blowout as well as who is at fault, judge Barbier made it clear that in this part of trial he would not admit independently obtained information that refers to the causes of the Gulf disaster in order to “facilitate the job of the parties” — including Judge Barbier — in finding out what really happened, who is responsible, and that the ruling should be based on the facts. How in the world would judge Barbier find answers to what the causes of the blowout were or who is responsible for it, if he refuses to analyze key information that is more than pertinent to the case? What will he base his ruling on if he does not know this information or does not use it as a tool to determine the causes and the responsible parties? That is why I said this trial was doomed to fail the people of the Gulf.

But the settlement talks do not only include individuals who were affected by the oil spill. BP is also looking for a settlement with the government. Some legal analysts bounced out the idea that BP should settle with the government about the Clean Water Act Penalties and Oil Pollution Act damages, instead of negotiating will private plaintiffs, who most likely will take their money from BP’s disaster trust fund worth $20 billion. As of right now, BP is trying to solve its legal issues and to get away with murder by “legally bribing some Gulf residents as well as government agencies. When I say “get away with murder”, I mean, BP may not have to provide any aid with any efforts to clean the Gulf, if that is ever brought up as a necessity in the settlement or the trial.

According to the Financial Times, the government itself had already proposed a financial settlement to BP, but the company did not accept it. Any financial settlement will earn BP and perhaps the other accused parties, the chance to avoid criminal charges. “The wild card in those negotiations could be the possibility of criminal charges against BP, other companies involved and some of their employees, which are being considered by a separate section of the US Department of Justice from the division working on the civil damages and penalties,” says the Times.

“The government case is very complicated because of the criminal piece of it, which would have to be part of any settlement with BP,” says Carl Tobias of the University of Richmond School of Law.

It is important to point out that many of the hundreds of thousands of individuals who filed lawsuits against BP will not even be considered to receive money from BP’s trust fund, because according to some legal experts they weren’t able to prove how much money they had lost because of the oil spill. They did not have bills or a paper trail to demonstrate any loses and therefore won’t be entitled to any money. From the 116,000 individuals who filed a lawsuit against BP, only about 39,000 will actually be considered to receive payments if a settlement is reached. Most of the affected people, who were fishermen or individuals who made a living of informal commercial activities will be left out. “There is a debate over how many people are legally entitled to sue. Some argue that only those who had filed a claim with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, the compensation fund backed by $20bn of BP’s money, are eligible,” reports the Financial Times.

If a settlement is not reached, the trial is set to start on March 5th.


BP Oil Spill Litigation May Threaten Solution to Real Problem

by Luis R. Miranda
The Real Agenda
February 22, 2012

The BP Oil Spill trial set to start on February 27 is doomed to accomplish nothing, just as the Congressional investigation conducted post disaster left hundreds of ends loose about BP’s responsibility in the explosion. U.S. District judge Cari Barbier of New Orleans has made it clear that the scope of the trial will be limited and its main focus may not be holding those responsible for the disaster really accountable. Instead, it seems the trial will turn into a window-dressing spectacle that seeks to get money from BP and the other accused entities as supposed to making it imperative to find a solution to the current emergency in the Gulf, where millions of gallons of oil and gases are still pouring out into the sea.

Judge Barbier issued a set of directives regarding the manner in which the trial will be conducted by establishing policies he has created himself to reduce the amount of information that is presented during the process. Some of the information that will not be presented includes former BP CEO Tony Hayward’s Congressional testimony which is key in order to establish liability on the part of BP given the discrepancies that surfaced when comparing his testimony and what actually took place. New information that The Real Agenda will publish in future reports reveals that much of Haywards’s testimony was flawed to say the least, about the causes of the Deepwater Horizon explosion. Although judge Barbier has made it explicit that the main goal of the trial is to find out Who is liable for the April 20, 2010, explosion that killed 11 workers, judge Barbier himself is limiting, if not greatly reducing the amount of information that is presented, which will not allow the public to learn about the real causes of the BP Oil Spill disaster.

It seems that Judge Barbier believes that a shorter trial with less information will render a better outcome. However, by limiting the time allotted and banning  previously published information to be presented and analyzed, he could prevent the discussion of important facts and contradictions in the stories that BP, Transocean, Halliburton and even the EPA have told the public. As informed before, the trial will omit information from investigations published in the media since the disaster occurred. “In other words, he’s not going to be influenced by any out-of-court investigative findings that have been published prior to the start of the trial, but will rule solely on the facts of the record before him,” said Blaine LeCesne, associate professor at Loyola University New Orleans School of Law. This may mean that any pertinent information obtained by independent investigators, no matter how relevant to the case, will not be accepted.

The trial may then be tainted with “official” information, which by all measurable means is flawed. For example, the EPA decided to use Corexit to “clean” the Gulf waters, even though this chemical threatens the life of sea and land creatures. The EPA does this because it still enforces outdated protocols when it comes to cleaning oil spill disasters. The EPA isn’t even included as a plaintiff in the trial, even though it is directly responsible for poisoning the Gulf with Corexit.

Reading most traditional media outlets, it seems everyone believes the oil spill already stopped, with some media adventuring themselves to provide final oil spill numbers. This could not be further from the truth, because the oil spill still continues in the gulf. These facts will not be considered by the judge in order not only to obtain an economic solution to the disaster, which is what many of the parts want, but also to determine a solution to the ongoing oil spill disaster, which is the only solution to the problem that is now affecting millions of people along the Gulf’s coastline. Whatever money given to fishermen, hoteliers and other business owners or Gulf inhabitants will not solve the grave pollution problem now taking place.

Judge Barbier intends to hear the six accused parties: BP, Halliburton, Transocean, Cameron International Corp, M-I LLC, Anadarko Petroleum Co. and Moex, which settled with the government for $90 million dollars previous to the start of the trial. So the trial will be a show of six defendants accusing each other for the damage caused in the Gulf which will make it likely the judge splits the financial burden of such damages among the accused parties as supposed to addressing the real causes of the disaster and holding the individuals responsible accountable for their decisions. Additionally, the judge will also hear the accusing part, which will make the score 6-1. Six parties splitting the blame while one party tries to make sense of all the data to try to convince the judge that a crime has been committed. This is a monumental task and that is exactly why it’s important that the judge opens the trial to independently conducted investigations. Information obtained after the Gulf disaster and previous to the trial may facilitate the job of the parties — including Judge Barbier — in finding out what really happened, who is responsible, why and what the ruling should be based on the facts. Right now, judge Barbier seems to be shooting himself on the foot by limiting information, therefore making it more difficult to come up with a solution to the problem of the ongoing oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. It is hard to believe that judge Barbier even knows the oil spill is still happening and this is perhaps the most important consideration when assigning blame and coming up with a solution.

At BP’s request, Judge Barbier will not hear any information regarding previous oil spill disasters, such as the ones in 2005 at BP’s refinery in Texas City, Texas, that killed 15 people; the 2006 rupture of a pipeline in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska; and a series of accidents at a BP facility in Scotland in 2000. According to Law.com, the trial will also ignore U.S. government findings about some of these previous accidents and the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling’s report. “The excluded evidence could weigh heavily during the trial’s subsequent phases, however, when damages — particularly punitive damages — become the focus. Barbier specifically ruled that such evidence could be relevant then.”

If mountains of relevant evidence are left out for the sake of simplicity and comfort this trial runs the risk of becoming another public circus where the people to blame will walk untouched and the only solution will be an economic one. As it is obvious, cash won’t help stop the oil from flowing out into the sea and neither will it help clean the Gulf so that life returns to its waters. I don’t hold my expectations too high in this case.


U.S. EPA Enforces Antiquated Oil SPill Clean up Protocols

The outdated procedures cost Gulf Economy Billions in Losses

By Susan Aarde
The Real Agenda
January 23, 2012

23 Years of Denial

Much of what was being reported about in 2011 as the aftermath of the Gulf Oil Spill has not covered an important point: Oil is still leakingi from the seabed floor BP well zone and millions of barrels are still submerged and residing in the water column–HOW WILL THE TOXIC GULF BE CLEANED UP

There are many ongoing blog and media reports about the aftermath from the spill and millions being spent on studies to find out how marine life, water and other mediums have been affected.  Further, as recent as Sept 13, 2011 reports on numerous sightings of new oil slicks in the vicinity of the original BP Spill are bringing attention back to the area. Lab tests showing it to be BP oil finally forced the admittance by the responsible oil company that it was their oil.  Sadly, none of this coverage brings to light the most crucial issue; continued use of dispersants which do not remediate the oil and hence do not relieve the continued toxic stress on the ecosystem with adverse economic and health effects to Gulf Coast residents. And this cycle of new oil surfacing and repeatedly spraying Corexit to disperse ithas proven to compound environmental damage for which BP and government agencies enforcing destructive protocols should be held financially accountable.

 The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) admits there are “trade-offs” to using Corexit, however their explanation of these and why they favor its use on their website, are absurd.  (See EPA Link)

 The combined events of the BP Oil Spill and the application of this [outmoded] cleanup method (millions of gallons of Corexit(R)) resulted in high toxicity levels persisting in the GOM region until as recent as March 201lii – levels well above earlier official safety threshold standards set in 1999 which, for some unexplained reason, were raised by much higher percentiles within a few months after the beginning of the Deepwater Horizon blowout. [a means of blinding people from identifying potential public health and seafood contamination risks] .These toxicity levels are still adversely affecting human health and marine life in the region.  

EPA and other federal agency statements announcing the clean up was successful and assuring the public that seafood was safe to consume and that the environment  was safe to use  were clearly premature and misrepresentative to the public, suggesting ineffective clean-up protocols and potential negligence on the part of the EPA.  The most recent scientific data on this issue are fact-based, and those facts are now being reported inscientific literature.   

 More notably, BP had made formal requests to use bio remediation clean up technology to avoid these toxic trade-offs and initiated testing on a product called Oil Spill Eater IIiii (already approved and listed on EPA’s National Contingency Plan for Oil Spill Response) to replace Corexit.  BP’s request, along with those from gulf state officials, including Governor Jindal of Louisiana, were denied by EPA and Regional Response Team officials. The EPA denial letter cited science that erroneously grouped this readytodeploy, proven clean up product with “questionable” remediation products examined.  In a June 2010 EPA letter, BP’s official request was denied, (documentation relevant to this can be obtain upon request). Per Gulf Rescue Alliance sources BP’s Chief Council referenced that letter and stated in a recent meeting that their hands were tied where the use of bioremediation (OSE II ) was concerned – “BP is bound by it”—bound by the EPA mandate [to keep using Corexit]. Consequentially it is estimated that BP could have saved an estimated $36 billion in clean up costs if they had deployed the EPA approved alternative to Corexit. 

 Gulf Rescue Alliance (GRA) has voluminous documentation indicating the EPA arbitrarily blocked and continues to prevent the use of eco friendly bioremediation clean up technology in favor of Corexit despite ample science indicating it is fatally toxic to marine life and even humans. 

 Bottom line: Use of bioremediation could have saved BILLIONS in clean up costs and result in an end point to the disaster. (See Economic Comparison article) BP’s attempt to use an alternative is a significant point and the resultant damage caused by Corexit is proving to be quite concerning for escalating clean up costs. 

 We applaud Surfrider Foundation and the Center for Biological Diversity for its recent action of filing suit against the EPA over the use of dispersants reinforcing the case that EPA oil spill cleanup response protocols are wholly inadequate. 

 While the EPA, NOAA and Coast Guard remain in denial and continue to roadblock the use of Bioremediation, perhaps this suit will open the door for permitting the deployment of safe and effective cleanup methods available and ready for use right now to stop the killing in the Gulf Waters.  And if one had no regard for the marine life and saving the ecosystem, possibly the continued threat of loss in BP Stock value will incite action. 

 While allowing Nalco Holding Company, the manufacturer of Corexit, to use up their existing stockpiles in the country, the UK has banned the product from further subsequent use. 

Footnotes:

i CEO OSEI Corporation:  I have been in contact with expert economists and have received a recent document that shows the spill is causing the Gulf states to lose revenues and property values of approximately $122 billion a year; and this number is extremely conservative.  It can easily be demonstrated that the ongoing spill is costing the Gulf states $500 billion a year in lost revenue, diminishing property values, other loss to all the peripheral associated businesses that have been economically damaged, and increased drain on the public health system from all of the people who are getting sick and those who will get sick in the future from exposure to the carcinogenic, mutagenic and teratogenic elements in the dispersed oil.The economic numbers show the current loss; however, it is estimated through numerous reports that the spill has leaked approximately 2,000,000 gallons of oil a day and has never stopped. On several places on the Internet there is a video showing a third BP well where there is an enormous crater leaking oil. There are numerous ex BP oil spill responders that have stated there is a trench southwest of the well with 80 to 100 feet of oil laying in it, and, per University of Southern Florida scientists, we know there are several inches of oil laying on the Gulf’s continental shelf further endangering the U.S. Gulf state’s natural resources. What you have as of October 31, 2011 is approximately 1 billion gallons of oil spilled.  Some of the oil is going south to the trench and heading southwest towards Mexico with reports from Mexican officials of their shorelines being devastated by the ongoing DWH oil spill.  Some of the oil is coming ashore in the U.S., and enormous amounts of oil are in the water column destroying the marine life and fisheries.

iiia simple lay term description of how OSE II works “Emulating Mother Nature” should be read. The Earth Organization (TEO) (a non-profit) working on locating safe and effective clean up measures for the Gulf vetted all products on the EPA national contingency plan lists and by process of elimination using a set of precise, scientific guidelines concluded the most immediate, swift, and effective option open for cleaning up the spill–without adding further toxic effects or introducing non-indigenous microbes to the waters –was OSE II.  It was also the only company with current supplies and production capabilities to remediate a spill disaster of this magnitude.   TEO’s research and other independent science reviews such as one from the Dept of Interior conclude OSE II is capable of swiftly addressing and remediating 100% of any spill in any environment.

Susan Aarde is a contributor from the Gulf Rescue Alliance, an independent coalition comprised of concerned scientists, medical experts, attorneys, seafood and tourism industry professionals, oil industry advisors, civic and government leaders, non-profits and citizens.

Gulf of Mexico Sea Floor Unstable, Fractured, Spilling Hydrocarbons

Oil and gas are still seeping unabated, says expert. Toxic leakage poses significant public health risks.

by Luis R. Miranda
The Real Agenda
October 10, 2011

The Gulf of Mexico disaster has not gone away. In fact, it has grown exponentially since the main stream media stopped talking about it. According to the Gulf Rescue Alliance, an organization composed of scientists, medical professionals and seafood industry professionals, among others, the problem cannot be simplified to the damage already caused by the oil spill. It is worse, much worse.

Pools of crude oil float on the surface of Gulf of Mexico waters at the site of the sunken BP/Transocean oil drill the Deepwater Horizon on April 27, 2010. Getty Images

The Real Agenda received exclusive information regarding the current state of the ongoing emergency in the Gulf of Mexico. The latest assessment performed by the Gulf Rescue Alliance reveals not only that the oil spill is still happening, but also that the Gulf of Mexico’s sea floor grew more unstable since the explosion in 2010. Additionally, analysis provided by experts like BK Lim, shows that the geohazards developed that derive from the rolling leakage of toxic matter, combined with the on-going use of the highly toxic chemical dispersant called Corexit will most likely result in the permanent decline of marine life, while posing out-of-control public health risks, just as it did after the Exxon Valdez spill where the same chemical dispersants were used resulting in a rapid decline of the marine life until, for example, the Herring industry completely collapsed and has never recovered since then.

In a letter dated 14 January, 2011 that was sent to Congressman Fred Upton, Chairman House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Congressman John Shimkus Chairman Subcommittee on Environment and Economy,  BK Lim warned the congressmen and their committees about the current state of the sub-seabed in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). In the document, an in-depth assessment of the emergency was provided. It explains why action must be taken immediately. The evaluation of the emergency in the Gulf conducted by Mr. Lim appears credible and is based on his 30 years of experience analyzing the geologic structure of both dry land and underwater drilling sites for major oil industry companies and leading geohazards contractors such as Fugro Geodetic (M) Sdn Bhd, TL Geohydrographics Sdn Bhd, and RPS Energy Pty Ltd.

The vaporization of enormous amounts of methane hydrates on a scale not seen before, the release of stresses between the lower and upper crust resulting in the abnormal occurrences of low magnitude, shallow earthquakes adjacent to the New Madrid Fault, the sub-seabed underground erosion in the vicinity of the shelf edge undermining the slope stability with possible tsunami-generating, giant, submarine landslides,” said Mr. Lim.

As we now know, the BP explosion that cost the lives of 11 workers was not an accident, but negligence at best and a conspiracy at worst. The latest assessment from the Gulf Rescue Alliance seems to reinforce the fact that BP drilled into the Macondo well with questionable regard for the damage it would cause to the well itself, the sea floor and the marine environment down below.

“There is no question that the oil seepages, gas columns, fissures and blowout craters in the seafloor around the Macondo wellhead, observed from the ROV videos, have been the direct result of indiscriminate drilling, grouting, injection of dispersant and other undisclosed recovery activities,” details the document sent to congressman Upton on January 14 of this year. The direct result of the Deepwater Horizon’s explosion was the massive destruction of life through miles of coastline. The less than adequate cleanup, which helped worsen the disaster, condemned the area to living with tons of toxic chemical dispersants that simply destroyed the eco systems and negatively affected the health of thousands of people who live nearby and millions of others who directly and indirectly depend on the fishing, tourism and natural beauty of the marine life, wildlife and environment.

A review of the documents and news articles during the days and weeks after the underwater explosion, clearly shows that BP was attempting to buy time with various delay tactics and was unwilling to reveal the truth and magnitude of the disaster. While BP was officially battling to kill well A their contractors and other vessels went about with other covert underwater operations, many of which did not seem to be in sync with the urgency of killing “a third undisclosed well which was gushing even more oil”. For example there was this video showing a ROV brushing of the name of another oil company from a new BOP brought into the vicinity of the Macondo wells. BP Clean off Co Logo on BOP – why?on 9 June 2010.Other videos showed oil gushing from craters on the seafloor and ROV activities (blasting (demolition?), cutting and removal of well casings on the seafloor and from a hole (another well?), dismantling BOP, grouting of seafloor tens to over hundreds of meters away from well A. How could a BOP be dangling for two weeks from 3 to 16 July while BP was showing to the world’s audience the killing and capping of supposedly the only spewing well A from June till 15 July?

In fact, in early media reports animated graphics suggested 3 different leaks locations. BP admitted initially 3 leaks but conveniently reduced to only 1 later; ignoring to explain the “why, when and how”. BP had maintained from the start they had drilled only 1 well. From my analysis in early Aug 2010 I concluded BP could not have drilled only 1 well. They must have drilled 3 wells to account for all the conflicting information. See media reports here.

Videos also confirmed that even as early as May to June, oil and gas were already spewing from the seafloor as far as 7 to over 20 miles from Well A. A satellite photo on 25 May suggests a good correlation between the seabed oil spewing and with the faults and Salt Domes.

Evidently, numerous Youtube video postings not only confirm that BP and multiple federal agencies who were on the scene were not revealing all to the public, but that unknown quantities of hydrocarbons were still leaking out from the reservoir at high pressure and seeping through multiple fault lines to the seabed. “It is not possible to “cap” this oil,” reads Mr. Lim’s analysis. “Until a solution is found to seal these fissures, the hydrocarbons, including Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S), will continue to leak uncontrollably”.

WHAT IS NOW HAPPENING BELOW THE GULF’S WATERS?

The document sent to congressman Fred Upton is accompanied by photos, videos and other documentation that support the concerns expressed by the Gulf Rescue Alliance. Just as a doctor with years of experience in viewing and analyzing x-rays can immediately see a fractured bone or other ailment when a laymen would not see it or understand it’s importance, Lim has years of experience in viewing underwater videos of oil and gas seepage and can quickly see and analyze what is occurring where a laymen would not pick up on it. In his letter, Lim describes what is occurring in a series of underwater videos taken by ROV’s around and near the wellhead.

In one of the videos, Well A, as it is known, appears to be releasing clouds of methane saturated seawater, gas bubbles of methane and re-crystallized methane crystals floating close to the seabed in the vicinity of the Macondo wellhead. On top of this, says the letter, it is also possible to see new fissures and a bulging seabed developing together with an already blown crater.

A second video shows how the very rope that guides the surveying ROV disappears into a dense, darkish cloud of oily fluid. Lim’s document explains how grout materials and old drilling mud that were previously taken to higher altitudes by columns of gas in the water can be seen in the video falling back onto the sea floor. These columns of gas are coming from newly activated venting fissures formed due to sea floor instability and fragility. Viewers can also see re-crystallized methane which appears as transparent and light multicolor materials floating in the water.

The third video shows the “periodic expulsion of the gas through one of the fissures on the seabed. Like geysers, the escaping gas needs to accumulate beneath the top sediment cover until the built-up pressure exceeds the combined water-column and overburden pressure just before each periodic expulsion,” explains the report compiled by the Alliance. According to images obtained from a ROV video, there are pools of tar/oil sediment all over the seafloor which are the direct result of the oil spill.

Although it is very difficult, under the current circumstances, to obtain clear footage of what is going on at that depth, my extensive training and experience in analyzing these types of situations, combined with these footages and others which I have access to, provides proof that oil and gas are still seeping unabated from the uncontrolled leaking reservoir,” warns BK Lim on his letter sent to congressmen Upton and Shimkus on 14 January, 2011.

Independently collected video footage from places like Saint Louis Bay Beach, Pensacola Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge and other places around the Gulf shows large amounts of fresh Corexit foam on the beach. As Corexit can only be used to sink fresh oil within the first couple of days of it coming up out of the ground, it is yet another indicator that there is an on-going attempt to sink fresh oil below the surface. Surficial bitumen layers (oil tarballs) that made it to the water surface as recently as September 6, due to storm surge are also coming up in massive amounts. According to sources close to the Gulf Rescue Alliance, on August 18, 2011, members of EcoRigs, went out and collected surface water samples that contained crude oil which they believed belonged to the ongoing BP oil spill. They also recorded video evidence of a heavy oil slick on Long Beach Mississippi. The water / oil samples were examined by independent laboratories and the first of those samples to return from the lab on the 28th of September confirmed their concerns: the oil was BP’s and from the Macondo reservoir.

Water sample analysis conducted independently by EcoRigs shows a positive correlation to BP’s oil spill samples. “The presence of fresh BP MC 252 crude oil in surface waters 2 to 14 months after the well was reported to have been capped suggests that crude oil from the BP DWH MC 252 field may have found new pathways to the seafloor.” The evaluations conducted also reveal that the toxic chemical Corexit is now being applied to the subsurface leak located 1500 meters beneath the ocean’s surface at the wellhead. This is done with the intention of further decomposing the oil so that the smaller particles do not make it to the surface and the continuing oil spill can be easily kept from the public eye.

ANOTHER MISHANDLED DISASTER

Just as with Katrina, more than a year into the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the Federal government has shown its ineptitude to adequately solving the consequences of a major disaster. In separate documents gathered by the Gulf Rescue Alliance, more revealing details are provided about how BP and the government handled the oil spill disaster. “The blown crater at the undisclosed 3rd well was spewing more than 100,000 barrels per day. (100,000 barrels estimate was based on the quantity of oil seen on the surface). Even worse the highly corrosive mix of brine, gas and oil ingresses into every crevices and permeable sections of the formation, creating new pathways to the seafloor,” says Mr. Lim. The Alliance subscribed to the standard industrial practice of conducting a detailed seafloor survey as immediately possible, to establish the extent of the seafloor damage following the well blowout. Just as an X-ray would help the surgeon in pin-pointing and planning the most appropriate surgical procedure, such a detailed seafloor and sub-seabed scan would most certainly provide the most strategic approach to stopping the release of hydrocarbons from the beleaguered well or wells. After ignoring repeated calls for such a seafloor survey since the blowout, BP and NOAA suddenly announced such a research survey using the NOAA Okeanos Explorer 15 months later. The only logical conclusion to this late survey is:

“A seafloor survey then (within the first few months) would reveal the ugly truths about the broken seafloor and precarious salt formation they were trying so hard to hide,” continued Mr. Lim. After more than a year of grouting, patching up and destroying all critical evidence in the seabed around the Macondo wells they (BP) were confident enough, the “modified seafloor” would not be incriminating to them. According to Mr. Lim, British Petroleum was very careful not to mention the fact they had drilled 3 wells. If this fact had come out, it would have caused a bomb and they could have been indicted for drilling without permission. “That is what they fear most,” says Lim. BP was also careful to isolate drilling crews away from each other, which according to Lim,  is against safety rules because drilling need to be briefed on hazardous and technical problems encountered at earlier drilling stages. Although BP may not have expected the three wells to blow up, this was an almost sure outcome due to the interconnected shallow gas formation (which was one of the main causes of their numerous problems). Further, after urgent requests for recommendations, a formal request was made to the Coast Guard on behalf of Constituent David Fakouri with the Louisiana Economic Foundation demanding seafloor survey and damage assessment be done with a 3rd party observer, but the request was denied.

The recent seafloor survey went on to have totally different emphasis and priorities. This led geohazards expert BK Lim to conclude as follows:

The vessel’s track history seemed to suggest higher emphasis in the south-western edges of the Biloxi Dome, the southern edged of Whiting Dome and generally south of the Macondo prospects. While there may yet be geologically valid reasons for the emphasis south of the Macondo wells, the shelf edges 6 to 8 km north-west of Macondo Wells and the badly eroded north-western edges of Whiting Dome should at least be surveyed with some grid-lines (see areas P1 and P2).

BP’s vessels had been observed working for quite some time in both areas. The 22 mile long underwater plume (first denied by BP and later confirmed by many independent research cruises), was suspected to have originated from the cracks in the seafloor at these locations. By avoiding these critical areas, can the present survey investigation be truly objective and independent in investigating the truth of the Macondo Blowout?

Almost all the oil sightings are north of the Macondo wells, not south. Why did the survey deliberately (?) avoid the shelf edges north of Macondo. In March 2011, new oil spills were suspected to have come from “leaks in the seabed” north of the Matherhorn field. The shelf edges bordering the Mississippi-Alabama Shelf, appear pretty fractured with large crevices and in potential danger of sliding into gigantic submarine landslides. Submarine landslides are more effective in generating tsunami than quakes without significant landslides. Both the 2011 Japan and 2004 Sumatra Quakes had giant tsunamis due to the accompanying large submarine mass displacement.”

During the first few weeks of the disaster, there was a struggle within BP between thosewho wanted to come clean about the reality of the situation and another group that wanted to cover it up. Apparently the latter group managed to win the struggle and they decided to use the well with the least of the problems (the first and shallowest, Well A, which was drilled to about 5,000 feet below mudline) to be the one staged for the world media as the “show capping” of an oil spill. The third and bigger leak at Well 3, which the late Matt Simmons kept asserting was “the deepest well that reached the Macondo oil resevoir”, was kept out of the public limelight.

A confidential source informed The Real Agenda that credible scientific evidence has been gathered giving high probability to allegations that oil is, in fact, still leaking and that inadequate oil spill response protocols were employed by the EPA, Coast Guard and other officials at Federal and State levels throughout the disaster. According to the source, the compilation of the scientific evidence is not just an edict of worrisome errors but criminal negligence resulting in a worsened tragedy throughout the Gulf States and Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem resulting in serious human health consequences—with EPA being at the head of that mismanagement.

The source further reports that between May 2010 and March 2011 long after the reported capping of the BP well in July of 2010 the average toxicity levels in the Gulf Region waters from Texas to Florida were persisting at unsafe levels and that, in some cases, they were thousands of times higher than EPA established safety threshold levels. It was during this same period of time that federal government agencies put out propaganda saying everything on the Gulf of Mexico was safe, including seafood, air and sea water.

It has been alleged that NOAA’s testing methods were flawed resulting in the “all is safe now in the Gulf” proclamation by responsible agencies. A separate concern is the fact that BP has a $500 million fund paying for continuing studies on the after effects of the spill and use of Corexit leading to concerns by independent scientists over the transparency and availability of this information to the public. Scientists under BP or government contracts conducting studies are not permitted to publicize or discuss any of their data until delivered to their employers. With some of these studies estimated to take several years, the public won’t know the truth until years later.

On September 13, 2011 new oil was seen close to where the original BP oil explosion occurred. Due to the fact the EPA insists on using Corexit as the only possible solution to the problem, the most important issue up to this point -the dire consequences of using Corexit- are not being addressed. Corexit not only contaminates the Gulf of Mexico and the human populations established throughout, but also is ineffective remediating the core problem: cleaning the Gulf waters as fast as possible. The only thing Corexit has proven is its effectiveness to pollute the waters and the Gulf as a whole. Why then does the EPA and the federal government insist on using it? It is interesting to note that none of the official statements by either the EPA or the oil companies state that Corexit cleans up the waters. They do, however, repeatedly state that Corexit is “effective”, which misleads the public into thinking that Corexit is cleaning up the waters. What Corexit is effective at is sinking it below the surface where it is difficult to see and quantify just how much is there, and breaking it up into small particles and spreading the contamination far and wide making the potential problems of toxic exposure to both humans and all the flora and fauna exponentially worse.

EPA ENFORCES ANTIQUATED OIL SPILL CLEAN UP PROTOCOLS

On its website, the EPA mildly agrees that using Corexit as a tool to clean the Gulf has “trade offs”. The question is, where are the positives? The oil is not being cleaned, but the waters and the complete ecosystem are being contaminated. Given the Federal Government’s line of action, it seems the task at hand is to make things worse, instead of better. Even after BP requested to test on the DWH oil already-proven, effective, non-toxic alternative oil spill cleanup technologies the EPA refused to allow those alternative technologies to be utilized.

One of the most highly regarded products suggested by scientists and environmental and conservation groups is Oil Spill Eater II, which is not only approved by the EPA, but also listed as part of an official list of products for oil spill cleanup, called the National Contingency Plan (or NCP List) that have been tested and approved as workable for emergencies like the one now taking place in the Gulf of Mexico.

According to the Gulf Rescue Alliance, BP’s requests to use Oil Spill Eater II were denied by the EPA and regional federally controlled response team officials. The Real Agenda additionally received documents showing formal requests were made by the Governor of Louisiana Mississippi and Alabama to use or conduct trials on OSE II in their states. In June 2010, the EPA sent a letter to Louisiana Governor Jindal denying the use of bioremediation methods for the DWH oil. Per documents obtained by the Gulf Rescue Alliance, the letter had a number of inaccuracies and misleading statements in it, and showed a surprising lack of understanding of the natural process that mother nature follows to clean up an oil spill. This effectively took off the table all but one of the non-toxic products on the NCP list for use in the Gulf of Mexico blowout. The only non-toxic product which did not fit under the detailed description of why the EPA stated that bioremediation would have only limited value, unwittingly made the case for the immediate use of OSE II. When this was pointed out to the EPA in a subsequent letter by OSEI, the company that manufactures and distributes OSE II, the EPA ignored the letter. BP America’s Chief Counsel stated in a conference call with the OSEI Corporation, in September of 2011 that BP was not able to use OSE II to treat the oil disaster because “BP is bound by the government’s decision” —bound by the EPA mandate [to keep using Corexit]. Consequently, it is estimated by sources outside of BP that BP could “have saved an estimated $36 billion in clean up costs if they had deployed the EPA approved alternative to Corexit. Gulf Rescue Alliance members state that it is in possession of voluminous documentation that indicates the EPA arbitrarily blocks any attempt to use environmentally friendly methods to clean the Gulf and instead prefers to use Corexit with no regard for the marine life and public’s health from the now proven to be fatally toxic chemical dispersant.

The use of friendlier technologies could not have only saved the Gulf’s ecosystem in the earlier stages of the disaster, but it would have also reduced the costs of the clean-up process for both the federal government and BP itself and prevented untold damage. Instead, the disaster in the Gulf continues to endanger everything and everyone as the toxic contamination spreads, and the costs of the clean-up process -which are now estimated in the tens of billions of dollars- continue to skyrocket.

Given the EPA’s decision not to help resolve the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, community organizations such as the Surfrider Foundation and the Center for Biological Diversity have filed lawsuitsthat ask the EPA to conduct long-term studies that evaluate the impacts of Corexit on the environment and endangered species. It is expected that these lawsuits will act as a wake-up call to the EPA, NOAA and the U.S. Coast Guard, which appear to have made a conscious effort to block all alternatives directed towards the use of OSE II or any other environmentally friendly and truly effective technologies or techniques to clean the Gulf swiftly and effectively.

Luis R. Miranda is a Journalist with 15 years of experience. He is the founder and editor of The Real Agenda. Learn  more about Luis here.


BP Disaster Oil still washing on shore

WSJ

The oil that has washed onto nearby beaches in recent days is Louisiana sweet crude, which rules out refineries or tankers carrying foreign oil as culprits but leaves the spill’s precise origins very much a mystery, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

“This is definitely crude from the Gulf of Mexico,” said Capt. Jonathan Burton, who is based here and heads the U.S. Coast Guard’s response to the spill.

The crude began washing up on stretches of Louisiana’s shoreline late Saturday and continued to foul beaches through Monday, including on Elmer’s Island, a state wildlife refuge. The Coast Guard said that crude has accumulated on stretches amounting to about a half-mile. The locations of those landings dot about 30 miles of coastline in an area that was among the hardest hit during the spill unleashed by the explosion last year of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which was drilling a deep-water oil and gas well for BP PLC.

Mr. Burton told a press conference the oil appears to have hit the water fairly recently and there is “nothing to suggest” the oil came from BP’s spill last year.

Capt. Edwin Stanton, the head of the Coast Guard’s operations in New Orleans, said in a telephone interview that if the oil had come from the Deepwater Horizon, “we would expect it to be much more weathered.”

In an effort to pinpoint the source—and thus figure out who to send the clean-up bill—the Coast Guard has sent samples of the oil for analysis, and it should have results later this week.

Scientists will compare the chemical properties of the crude with samples collected from known spills, including an hours-long leak at a hurricane-damaged platform reported Saturday by closely-held Anglo-Suisse Offshore Partners LLC, Mr. Burton said.

“This is not a large incident in terms of product, but it is spread over a large area,” Mr. Burton said.

Mr. Burton said that there have been no reported landfalls on Tuesday, though the vast amount of freshwater that courses out of the Mississippi River and its tributaries at this time of year may be pushing some oil away from the shore and the hard-to-clean and ecologically sensitive coastal marshes.

A patchy sheen covers the Gulf’s surface along some 30 miles of shoreline, reaching about five miles offshore, Mr. Burton said. The thin film will likely evaporate before it can accumulate at surf’s edge or be cleaned up, he said.

Mr. Burton could offer no estimates of the volume of oil that clean-up crews are facing, as they remove the oil by hand from local beaches. But the Coast Guard and various Louisiana agencies have launched a wide-ranging spill response.

“We’re extremely engaged and taking this as seriously as any other oil spill,” said Karolien Debusschere, with the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator’s Office.

Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry said during a Tuesday morning speech here to federal offshore regulators that the amount of what she indicated was oil was “nowhere near the volume of Deepwater Horizon but still significant enough.”

The incident comes at a time when the oil and gas industry is trying to convince regulators, politicians and the public that it can avoid a repeat of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which was the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, and should be allowed to resume drilling in the Gulf of Mexico’s deep waters.

Only four deep-water drilling permits and one exploration plan have been issued by U.S. regulators since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank, and each of those have come in recent weeks after oil companies were able to comply with more stringent safety guidelines and show that they could contain and clean up any spill.